Friday, March 8, 2019

Saint Pontius of Carthage

St. Pontius of Carthage (Feast Day - March 8);
Image is a fifteenth century woodcut of Pontius
witnessing the martydom of St. Cyprian.

Saint Pontius served as a deacon under Cyprian of Carthage (c. 200 –258).

There is only one surviving account of Pontius, a brief mention in Jerome's On Illustrious Men (68):

"Pontius, Cyprian's deacon, who up to the day of his martyrdom endured exile with him, wrote a remarkable book of the life and passion of Cyprian."

From this we find out that Pontius was a Deacon who served under Saint Cyprian, the Bishop of Carthage, endured exile with him, and shortly after his martyrdom in 258 he wrote the Life of Cyprian.

Beyond this little is certain. Allusions and forensic style indicate that Pontius must have been well educated, with knowledge both of the Bible and of secular rhetoric. Alongside a small number of elements from experience, such as the prophetic dream that Cyprian had on being exiled to Curubis in 257 (Pont. 12-13), Pontius used Cyprian's own writings and an account of the proconsul's hearing in that year: a protocol of this was circulating even in Cyprian's lifetime and would form part of a later account of his martyrdom, known as the Acta Proconsularia. Pontius refers to this protocol (perhaps also to that of the second hearing in AD 258) and gives a looser and less detailed account.


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